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Balloons bring internet to Kenya’s rural Rift Valley

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The world’s first ever commercial high-speed internet service to use balloons to connect people to the web was launched in a remote region of Kenya’s Rift Valley this week.

Operated by Loon, part of Google parent company Alphabet, the service aims to bring affordable 4G internet to people in rural locations.

The balloons connect with internet ground stations and then communicate with each other to form a network of transmitters in the sky and initially will cover a region of 50,000 sq km, providing internet to 35,000 customers.

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“Loon is finally in Kenya. Kenya being the first country in the world to commercialize the technology. This is basically base stations up even beyond where the planes are,” Joe Mucheru, Kenyan information minister, told Reuters as he launched the service on Wednesday.

Loon’s technology has been in development for a while and was first made public in 2013, but it has not been used commercially until now.

The helium-filled balloons carry a solar panel and battery, and float in the upper atmosphere, high above airplanes and weather.

They are launched from bases in California and Puerto Rico and then flown remotely to their destination

A total of 35 balloons will be used for the Kenya network, which is being run in partnership with Telkom Kenya.

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“This will help me reach out to people even in the diaspora, because it has really been hard due to poor network around here,” honey vendor Dorcas Kipteroi told Reuters.

“We are sometimes left behind when it comes to communication, and you want to send some honey to people but the mode of communication becomes a challenge.”

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Trump says there’s been ‘confusion’ — but urges supporters to mask up: ‘We have nothing to lose’

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After months of casting doubt about wearing masks, President Donald Trump on Monday emailed his supporters about the "confusion" on the subject.

"We are all in this together, and while I know there has been some confusion surrounding the usage of face masks, I think it's something we should all try to do when we are not able to be socially distanced from others," Trump wrote in the email, that was posted online by multiple journalists.

I don't love wearing them either. Masks may be good, they may be just okay, or they may be great," the email read.

In the email, Trump referred to COVID-19 as "the China Virus."

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Here’s why the coronavirus spike is especially devastating to rural communities

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The first coronavirus hot spots in the country were densely-populated cities with international ports of entry, like New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

But the virus has now penetrated deep into rural areas around the country. And according to Politico, a new study has shed light on the catastrophic problems this has created for rural communities: more than half of U.S. rural communities have no ICU beds, forcing hospitals to transfer patients far away to other facilities that can accommodate severe COVID-19 cases.

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Joy Reid medical expert blasts the president’s lies on coronavirus: ‘Trump needs to stay in his lane’

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MSNBC anchor Joy Reid interviewed Dr. Bernard B. Ashby about the latest coming from the White House on the coronavirus pandemic.

"If, for instance, you did not test for pregnancy, does it mean you are not pregnant?" Reid asked.

Ashby, a cardiologist from Miami, praised the anchor on her new primetime show, "The ReidOut," but did not directly answer the question.

"And in terms of the whole discourse, the fact that I'm having to respond to Trump about clinical medicine is ridiculous," Dr. Ashby explained.

"Trump needs to stay in his lane. Like, we went to medical school for a long time, we did training for a long time to speak on exactly what ... we have the expertise to speak on and the fact that Trump is asserting himself in academic medicine, into clinical medicine is ridiculous," he explained.

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